Residents want needed repairs made to pavilion

HOUSTON The Sylvan Beach Pavilion, once a place the community used for public events, weddings, and dances, has been sitting vacant and in desperate need of repair.

Kay Hudspath tries to describe to her grandson what the Sylvan Beach Pavilion used to be. Built more than 50 years ago, it was the social heartbeat of La Porte.

"We used to come out here and listen to the bands and have dances. They would have bands out there," said Hudspath.

But ever since Hurricane Ike, the building has sat empty. The city of La Porte, which was half-way through a 40-year lease on the property from Harris County, didn't want to make the needed repairs.

"At that point they didn't want to put any more city funds into it and be in the middle of it just to give it back to the county and let them take back the building," said Martha Gillett, La Porte Spokesperson.

After La Porte broke its lease, it was left up to Harris County to find the money to repair it. So today, after some behind-closed door negotiations, county commissioners agreed to sue the pavilion's insurance carrier, hoping to get more money to make the needed repairs.

"Obviously today, the court has authorized them to sue whoever is necessary so we can recover the dollars to make that pavilion whole, and make it a place where families can enjoy the beach and their pavilion," said Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

As for Hudspath, she's just hopes someone saves the landmark before it's too late.

"It would be nice if it would go back to its old state, the way it was, when we were young," she said.

Officials estimate it will take at least $1 million to repair the pavilion.

The county has hired outside counsel to work on the project for free. It may not limit its lawsuit to just the insurance carrier.

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